In funerals I often read from 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I'm faithful that death has no sting. However, I'm pretty realistic that grief does provide a sting and sometimes a slow burn of pain. So, I continue to remind myself that grief is temporary, and hope is eternal.
I wrote this about grief almost 2 years ago. I still think it holds truth.
Death is basically a promise to all of us. Sometimes it follows a long journey and almost invited. Sometimes death comes unexpectedly and quickly, like a thief in the night. Sometimes death works like a boomerang where it seems to come, seems defeated, and then comes again to sew its roots of finality. Death is evident and as people who believe in God's promises we are told not to fear death because of the eternal reward we gain.
However, I don't fear death. I don't even fear the death of those whom I love the most. Sometimes I fear grief. Grief means that I am here to continue a journey without the ones I love. It pains me that as my journey continues, it continues with less on this earth. I say in funerals and memorials where I officiate that grief is an invention from God's imagination. And this is true. The pain of grief and mourning was created by God and given to us. It's not that He wants us to hurt. It's that He knows we feel and that by exploring all of our emotions we are not denying God or His presence, but leaning fully into Him.
As a professional minister I am suppose to have all the answers. I don't! I'm at a loss when others are experiencing deep, painful grief. Knowing the truth about God does not take away my pain, but at least my pain is experienced in a greater hope.
We will all experience our own grief and others' grief at some point. Not knowing what to say and do is extremely common...even for ministers. A preacher that I greatly admire, Mike Cope, has written several blog posts that share about grief. His daughter Megan died at a young age and his son Chris had a terrible car accident that nearly took his life many years later. He covers in this one blog post about things to say and not to say. Click here for that post. And check out his other posts on the topic of grief.
Please pray for those who today are suffering in grief!
HOPE is Eternal!!